Personal Injury Law
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS
Car accidents occur frequently and countless individuals suffer injuries. Whether you are the passenger, driver, or pedestrian that has been injured, there are steps you can take which begins with contacting a personal injury attorney.
Steps to take after a motor vehicle accident:
- Request the names and contact information for the drivers, registered vehicle owners, and other passengers, as well as any witnesses of the accident.
- Get the policy numbers and insurance company names from the drivers.
- Get medical care for your injury.
- Take pictures of any vehicle damage.
- Write down the names of the responding officers to the accident.
- Have the name notated of anyone claiming responsibility for the accident.
- File a police report
If you can show all of these things, you have proven your case. However, you must still establish the extent of your injuries and the amount of compensation you should receive. Swartz SC Culleton PC will do this by using medical reports, police reports and other documentation, and may ask experts to testify about your injuries.
With the full tort option, an accident victim may sue the driver or company at fault in the accident for compensation for pain and suffering regardless of the amount of damage to the vehicle or the severity of the injury. With limited tort, the victim may recover for pain and suffering only is he or she sustained an injury of a substantial and permanent nature. Even if the victim has excruciating back or neck pain lasting for months or years, under the limited tort option that person could not recover pain and suffering compensation for their injury.
The tort option you pick does not just cover you, but also covers all relatives living with you, including your children. If you own no vehicle and you do not live with a resident who has limited tort, then you are deemed to have full tort.
Under Pennsylvania law, there are some situations that permit a victim with limited tort coverage to have a full tort claim.
Uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage allows you to make a claim against your own policy in the event the person who caused the accident has no insurance. Underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage allows you to make a claim against your own policy in the event the person who caused the accident has insufficient insurance coverage. In Pennsylvania, many drivers carry only the minimum liability coverage required by law, which is $15,000 per individual claim and $30,000 per accident. That will not be enough coverage for a serious injury.
If you do not own a car, your medical bills will be paid by the policy covering any cars owned by a relative with whom you live. If you and no relative in your home own a vehicle, the first party benefits on the policy covering the car in which you were riding will apply. Once your medical benefits exhaust, your medical care will be paid by your health insurance. If you have no health insurance, we can help find you a doctor willing to treat you on credit. Any excess medical bills, whether already paid by health insurance or still owed to the doctor, become part of your claim against the driver responsible for your injuries.
You may also collect emotional damages, such as:
Lawsuits vary in length, depending on the circumstances and the people involved. If the claim is resolved without a law suit, the process may take four months to a year after the victim has completed treatment. A lawsuit takes one to three years from filing to a completed trial or settlement. Once the case is settled, the final paper work usually takes six to ten weeks. A settlement involving an Estate may take considerably longer.
If you are injured while driving as part of your job, your employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance may pay your medical bills and lost wages. If the person responsible for the accident is not your boss or co-worker, you may have a claim against that person’s motor vehicle insurance for all of your injuries, including the damages not covered by Workers’ compensation, such as pain and suffering. If you recover in your motor vehicle case lost wages and medical bills that were already paid by Workers Compensation, your employer’s carrier will have a right to recover some of those amounts.